Panelle aka Sicilian Chickpea Biscuits

One might be surprised to find this chickpea recipe from Sicilian Cookery, but if one knew their history one should not be surprised.

Sicily, our favorite Italian island infamous for being the birthplace of the mafia has always been a bit wild. You could say it is Italy’s version of the wild, wild west.

If we scale back to the middle ages, back when Sicily was its own kingdom and ruled by the Normans, you’d find a kingdom “governed with considerable tolerance and flexibility.” (Hearder 66)

This was to accommodate the fact that Sicily was a Mediterranean melting pot. Muslims, Jews, Christians, Arabs, Italians, and Greeks all called Sicily their home.

The Normans handled this by allowing each culture, specifically the religious cultures to govern and judge their own people. For example, the Normans led by Latin law and the Muslims and Jews had their own set of rules.

This country of tolerance, I imagine bled into the culinary arts as well. This high influence of Mediterranean culture would certainly make good use of chickpeas. Why not make little chickpea biscuits then?

See how it all makes sense now? Good, let’s get to cooking then!

What you’ll need

  • 500 g or 3 cups of chickpea flour
  • water
  • salt

This is another simple recipe as you can probably ascertain by the ingredient list. All you need to do is boil salted water in a sauce pan. Once it’s boiling, slowly mix in the flour and churn that mixture with a wooden spoon until it becomes a thick paste.

Once we find the right consistency, pour that mixture onto a pan and then flatten into the thinnest layer you can muster. The cookbook even recommends using a mallet which I say use it if you got it. Anytime you can pound something without causing pain, I say do so. Got to get out aggression when we can folks.

When you have pounded out your nice thin layer, grab a circular device, whether that be a cookie cutter, a circular ravioli cutter (this is what I used) or the rim of a glass and make little round biscuits.

These biscuits will then be thrown into a frying pan of hot oil. Fry them up until they are lightly browned and then enjoy!

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Rachel Speth (b. 1984) One Burned Biscuit Is Diversity, 2019 Oil in pan, on cat plate

I was excited to try this out, being part Sicilian and all. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.

I’d have to consult a nutritionist to fact check this, but I feel like this may be a healthier alternative to biscuits. The frying in oil is problematic and could be the factor that rules this theory out. Either way, there’s a reason I called this Sicilian Biscuits and that’s the best comparison I can give you for this recipe.

Garbanzo flour is a little flaky and is much earthier in taste then regular biscuits. It’s not as airy and fluffy, but the taste is very similar.

I brought this to a 4th of July party and had no leftovers to bring home. Everyone was shocked when I told them how tasty and simple this was to make. These two factors warrant an Italian like aka you should try this.

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The history lesson of Sicily came from the source below

Harry Hearder, Italy. A Short History (1990) Cambridge University Press

Vegetali Arrostiti: Italian for Roasted Vegetables

“This dish is simple, it’s all about using the best ingredients” – Always Be My Maybe

I couldn’t help but think of Always Be My Maybe while cooking this recipe from The Italian Mama’s Kitchen. The quote above is exactly how I would prepare someone for making this dish. I’ve said it many a time, simplicity is best when it comes to cooking and I’m happy that movie supports me in that thought.

What you’ll need

  • Various vegetables cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 4-5 fresh sage leaves
  • 5 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon of olive oil

You may be scratching your head at that first ingredient list. This recipe is more a guideline of how to roast your veggies all year round and whatever is seasonal which is why it’s left un-specific.

Thankfully, the cookbook also gave us suggestions and I went with the popular veggie combo. That combo is potato, sweet potato, onion and zucchini. Feel free to use whatever is seasonal, but whatever you choose, make it colorful.

Once you’ve selected your vegetables the next step is to preheat the oven to 375.

While the oven is heating up, go ahead and cut your vegetable and place them in an oven safe pan.

Then cut up the rosemary, sage, and garlic into the tiniest pieces you are able to muster and mix that tiny spice menagerie together. Once mixed, sprinkle it over your vegetables, drizzle with oil, and toss.

Your final step is to bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes. The goal is for the vegetables to be lightly browned like in the photo below.

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As I mentioned earlier, simplicity is the key here and if you follow this rule you will be satisfied.

The potatoes and onion were my favorite bits in this dish. They were lightly browned and softened which made them melt in my mouth.

The sage and rosemary compliment the earthy flavor of the potatoes and the garlic balances out that earthy taste with a little kick. You can’t go wrong with garlic, veggies, and oil.

I enjoyed this recipe immensely and I think one could make some yummy breakfast potatoes if you added some bell peppers into this mix. I can also imagine it going well with other veggies like carrots.

Well, that concludes my take on this Italian suggestion for roasting vegetables. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Ciao!

 

 

Butternut Agnolotti

Greetings and salutations dear readers.

I have another pasta recipe from Classic Pasta at Home for your hungry eyes. This time it’s agnolotti with butternut squash filling topped with butter and sage.

I had never heard of agnolotti before making this and the best way I can describe it to you is that it is a semi circular version of ravioli. You could also say it’s like an un-folded version of tortellini as well.

What you’ll need

  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • nutmeg
  • 2 1/4 all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 36 large fresh sage leaves

The first step is to bake your squash and to do so, pre-heat the oven to 375. While the oven is heating up, cut the squash in half lengthwise and then remove the filling. Once the seeds have been removed and discarded cut each half into 10-12 chunks. Place these chunks into a baking pan, pour the water in and then cover the pan with aluminum foil. We will then bake the squash until it is tender which will be about 40 minutes or so.

While the squash is baking, go ahead and start making your pasta by placing your flour on a clean work surface and shaping that flour into a mound. Beat three eggs and then create a well in the center of the dough. This well should be deep enough to keep the juices of the egg from seeping through which you may have guessed is where the eggs will be placed. Once those eggs are placed, carefully beat the flour into the egg until the consistency of the egg and flour is even. In other words, when the danger of egg juice spilling everywhere is no longer a threat.

Once everything is nicely mixed, knead the dough until it is no longer sticky and then cut the dough in half.

You are now ready to flatten one half of the dough with a roller. Roll the dough until it’s thin enough to go through a pasta machine roller and then roll that dough through the machine under the setting of 1 about 7-8 times.

Once that cycle is complete you can do the same to your remaining dough half as well.

Hopefully 40 minutes went by while you were making your pasta and you can go back to making the filling by removing the squash from the oven and allowing it to cool. As it cools, go ahead and mix one egg, the breadcrumbs, and 1/3 a cup of Parmesan cheese together. Check back on your squash. If it’s cooled enough, go ahead and scoop out the filling to purée in a food processor. Once it’s smoothly puréed you can add it to the cheese/egg mixture. Top this mixture off with nutmeg and salt to your liking.

Let’s check up on that pasta again. We are now ready to create or agnolotti shape. This is simple enough, just get a round cookie cutter and circle out the dough. Once you’ve got your circles, add 1/2 a teaspoon of filling in each circle and then fold. Seal the edges by rubbing a tiny bit of water. This will help it stick.

Once every agnolotti has been filled and shaped, allow it to sit for about 30 minutes.

During this time, go ahead a prepare your boiling pot by filling it with water and well boiling. As the water boils, get a sauté pan and melt your butter with the olive oil. Once the butter has melted, lower the heat to low and add the sage leaves. Cook until they become crisp, which is about 7-8 minutes. Remove the sage and allow it to drain on some paper towels.

Keep the oil butter in your pan though, we will be mixing that with the pasta later.

Hopefully by now the water is boiling and if so, go ahead and add the pasta in. Be sure to stir it in gently.

This process should take only two minutes and once those two minutes are up, again carefully remove the pasta from the water. The cookbook recommends using a large sieve. I do not have one, so I just very carefully poured the water out into a colander.

Once the water is drained, add your pasta to a large serving bowl and then pour in that butter oil along with some salt and pepper. Coat by gently tossing and then add 1/2 cup of Parmesan and the sage for some more tossing.

You should know have warm buttery pasta to consume like below.

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I was proud of myself with this recipe. As some of you know, I’ve had some mis-haps with making my own pasta, but I believe I’m getting better at.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a lot of work for me, but I have high hopes that I’m getting closer to having this process become smoother and more streamlined.

As far as the taste of this particular pasta, never underestimate the power of sage and butter my friends. It’s quite the dynamic duo. The sage has an intense earthy flavor with a touch of bitterness and the butter just makes the bitterness melt like putty. It’s like cream with a kick.

The butternut squash filling is so good that I ended up eating my leftover filling as a side dish for lunch. It looked like baby food but it tasted like dessert my friends.

Combine these elements together and you get quite the meal. So go ahead and try it out, it will not be one of many regrets in your life. I promise.

 

 

The Legend of Gnocchi

Nonnas worldwide cried out in unison while I attempted to make gnocchi from scratch. The biggest disappoint probably  came from Anna Sartor whose recipe I tried to follow from the Little Italy Festival Town Cookbook.

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Don’t judge me Anna!

I know I revealed my hand early here, but when I started this blog I promised to tell the truth of my misfortune. I never ever claimed to even be a sous-chef let alone an expert cook, but I thought I could handle gnocchi. No one warned me. No wise elder came to me to say…

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I hope Link knows how lucky he is

The good news is that after I failed to make gnocchi I did find that there is a tool that will make your life easier and even though it’s not Christmas yet, my wise elder of a mom has gifted me my master sword for Christmas so I can conquer the gnocchi monster and save Zelda.

That magical item by the way is called a potato ricer and trust me, you do not want to skimp on that. You’re going to need it.

The other stuff you’ll need is

  • 3 large potatoes (boiled with jackets on)
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of spaghetti sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of grated cheese

Before we get into the nitty gritty, I need to defend my honor. This cookbook was written in a time where more people cooked on the regular and even my mother defended me and said that the ladies who wrote these recipes assumed people knew little details because at the time most people did know.

It’d be like if I told all of you how to boil pasta. Which, some people out there may not even know how to do that I realize. Which is partly why I make the joke to follow package instructions, but you never know what people know or don’t know.

The first step is to boil the potatoes before you peel them. This step is where I let myself down. There is no instruction of how long to boil and I  did not use my critical thinking skills which I’m famous for at my day job.

I forgot that potatoes take awhile to soften and used the ole put a vegetable in a pot of water, turn the stove setting to high, and once boiling remove.

That is not enough time for potatoes my friends.

So what do you do? You boil the potatoes for about 20 minutes or until they rise to the top of your pot. The chemistry of cooking is very important when making gnocchi so be sure to do the fork test to make sure 20 minutes was enough time.

If you don’t know what the fork test is, it’s just sticking a fork into the potato to make sure it’s tender, but don’t let the potato become mushy either.

Once the potato is done boiling, drain the water and allow them to cool and dry.

The next step is to peel the potatoes and them mash them in the potato ricer. As you do this it’s very important to keep an eye on how saturated the potatoes are. If they are too wet it can cause issues. Like I said earlier, chemistry is important when making gnocchi.

All of you already know I didn’t have the master sword when I made this, so what did I do? I peeled and diced the potatoes and then spent an hour trying to mash them with two wooden spatulas.

I do not recommend this method for making gnocchi, but I do recommend it as an alternative muscle building and toning exercise for your arms.

Hopefully you’re just breezing through with the potato ricer and are now ready to combine the flour with the potato. When these two ingredients are mixed, make a well for your egg and then beat the egg into the flour to eventually create your potato dough.

Use the kneading and rolling method to create a smooth voluminous dough ball.

We are now ready to pretend to be a kid again by making play-doh snakes. If you’ve never done that, all we are doing is taking a chunk of the dough and rolling it into a long, thin breadstick shape.

Once you have that shape, you then cut the dough into 1 inch pieces and make a little print on top with your fork.

By the way I didn’t get this far and was un-able to experience the joy of making potato snakes. My chemistry was bad and the potato was creating a glue like effect that made it near impossible to mix the dough. Nothing I tried could create the right consistency and I gave up.

This is why I’m harping on the whole chemistry thing. So please do pay attention if you want to succeed.

Once the gnocchi is created we can now boil. This is where you can use the whole put the stuff in the water, set to boil, and when it comes up to the top remove.

It looks like I did use some critical thinking, just not for the right item.

Once that happens, Anna then instructs you to serve like a casserole. This is not how I’ve eaten gnocchi but I could be misinterpreting her instructions. I’d just normally pour sauce on top and sprinkle some grated cheese. Which is what she says to do as well, but she also mentions layers which tells me this is being served more like lasagna.

I failed making the gnocchi so when I saw this casserole step I tried making my potato junk into a casserole. I did this by layering it up and then baking until the cheese on top melted a little. The end result is pictured below.

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The potato casserole experiment

It didn’t turn out bad, but it wasn’t good either.

My mother and my LA/cooking BFF have already expressed interest in making this with me. Neither have made gnocchi before, but are up for the challenge.  I’m surprised that my mother hasn’t. I think she left that task up to her older sister. Whoever becomes my champion will be featured in an update to this post. I will select retry and look forward to having some assistance. Stay tuned.

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Gamers always retry

Pear Ravioli

This Pear Ravioli is the second and final installment of ravioli recipes my family learned together during our cooking class many years ago.

If you recall from my entry about Pumpkin Ravioli, I had a couple of ideas that I thought would make this process easier. One idea was to use an ice cube tray to help me portion the filling. That didn’t quite work out, so I am now thinking getting a ravioli gadget is worth it.

That being said, I felt my ability to do this manually so to speak went a lot smoother. I still had some imperfectly shaped ravioli, but I feel with more practice and some gadgets my problems with ravioli will be solved.

Keeping all of this in mind, the great news about making your own ravioli is that even if you mess it up, it’ll still taste yummy. I can’t make that case for everything, but knowing this is great for your morale if you end up struggling.

What you’ll need

  • 1 cup of fresh pears, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup of grated parmesan, asiago, or percorino cheese
  • 3/4 cup of ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup of cream
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 2/3-1 cup of parmesan

Our first step will be to make the filling and that consists of combing the pears, ricotta cheese, and the grated cheese of your choice from above.

Just mix those three ingredients together and then set aside.

The sauce and filling are a breath of fresh air to make. The real challenge is making the ravioli and that challenging process begins with making your own dough.

When making my pasta dough, I enjoy this recipe and culinary lesson of making pasta by this wonderful pasta scientist. She breaks down all the different ways you can make dough and the science behind it. My mother always said cooking is a lot like chemistry and this article makes that apparent. You can find her informative article here.

Once you’ve made your dough, the next step is to pull apart a quarter of your round dough ball and flatten that with a roller or pasta maker into a large rectangular shape. This step will be repeated until it’s all gone by the way. Taking only a 1/4 just helps maintain the portion we need for each batch.

By the way, feel free to look up how to make ravioli on that same link from above. There are other articles on that site and one of them is specifically for ravioli.

Back to my own process, once I made this rectangular shape, I attempted to use my ice cub tray as a measuring tool of filling size and more.

It did help me determine how large each ravioli piece should be, but it wasn’t as useful as I had hoped. I ended up discarding the tray and folding the dough in half from top to bottom after I placed my filling.

To place the filling I used a teaspoon to scoop out my filling. Then I placed that filling on the bottom portion of the rectangle about an inch above the border and the center of the bottom half. Each ball of filling was about 2 inches apart, give or take. That part is pretty easy to eye ball.

Once my filling was placed, that’s when I folded the top half over the bottom. I then used my fingers to sculpt the ravioli by creating a border between each piece and pushing the filling even more into a circular shape.

Once I felt things were even, I then cut the dough to separate each ravioli piece from the other and with a fork indented lines around the border.

While you’re making the ravioli by the way, I do suggest you boil a pot of water, so that once the ravioli is done you can just dump it in to cook.

That process should take around 7 minutes and while it’s boiling is the perfect time to make your sauce.

Making the sauce is even easier than making the filling. All you do is heat the cream, butter, and parmesan in a sauce pan until the cheese and butter has melted. Salt and pepper to taste and that’s all she wrote for the sauce.

Now all we need to do is strain the water once the ravioli is done cooking and serve individually with the sauce on top like below.

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This is another challenging recipe that I personally want to improve on, but turned out well despite that fact. I need to be more patient and thin out the dough more, because I always end up with leftover filling and thick pasta.

I enjoyed the pear version over the pumpkin as well. Sweet pear bites go well with bland (that’s my opinion) ricotta and that cream sauce is simple but comforting and yummy.

Despite the challenges you might face, I think this recipe is worth trying out because even if you fail with the ravioli, it’ll still taste good. Just maybe don’t serve it to any judgemental people in your life until you perfect it. If you care about their judginess that is. I personally enjoy making judgy people squirm sometimes. That sentence alone I’m sure has caused a great disturbance in the grammar police force. As I type it, it’s as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror.

It’s good for their mental health to be challenged to relax a little don’t you think?

Hopefully it is, otherwise I’m being seduced by the dark side and could use some help.

 

Olives Rolled around in Fried Breadcrumbs

I have changed the translation of this recipe from Sicilian Cookery to the above, because I feel it is mis-leading. The cookbook translated Olive Con Pangrattato Fritto to Fried Breaded Olives. This puzzles me.

I know this is an authentic Italian cookbook that was translated into English because my sister got it for me when she visited Italy. The Italian portion should be correct but it doesn’t add up for me.

I studied Italian in college and I wouldn’t brag about my translation abilities, but I’m pretty sure fritto is Italian for fried. I did not know what pangrattato meant and had to look it up. It means breadcrumbs.

Olives = Olives, Con = with, Pangrattato = Breadcrumbs, and Fritto = Fried.When we put it all together and translate this literally, it’d be Olives with Fried Breadcrumbs.

Olives with Fried Breadcrumbs is a more honest and accurate translation in my opinion.

My current job is quality control for subtitles. I’ve seen a lot of languages pass my way and have encountered cases where translators debate on how to translate because just like certain words in English can mean the same thing, they can also be interpreted differently depending on where you live and/or the placement of such translated words.

In this case, I think the term fried solely applies to the breadcrumbs, whereas in the United States, when we say fried we mean the whole damn thing is fried. If it’s just one portion we are quick to point that out.

What can I say, we enjoy the delicacies of frying and to flat out translate this as Fried Breaded Olives, just makes it seem like it’s fried olives. It’s offensive I say to trick us like this!

Of course, I’m just joking around and translating is a hard gig. It’s a lot of pressure. You gotta be careful sometimes. Still at the end of the day, this translation is mis-leading. I’d reject it if I was translation q.c.

What you’ll need

  • 1 pound/3 cups of green olives, scored
  • 4 ounces/1 cup of dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • hot red pepper
  • olive oil
  • vinegar

The first step is to fry the breadcrumbs, do so by heating a little oil in your pan, adding the crumbs, and stirring continuously.

In a bowl, get your olives and toss them around with your seasoning of garlic and some chopped parsley that was not mentioned in the ingredient list for some reason.

To be fair, parsley is practically in every Italian recipe. It’s just something a chef of Italian cuisine should just know.

We will then add the hot pepper, olive oil, a pinch of vinegar, and the fried breadcrumbs.

Mix this well and serve!

I brought this recipe over to my friend’s place because I wanted verification that I was reading the recipe right. Despite knowing Italian I was thrown off by the whole fried breaded olives interpretation.

We read the instructions a couple of times and determined that was indeed not fried. So we moved forward and created the below.

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Blessed be the olives

I’m not going to lie, they’re a little odd, but they aren’t bad. Ultimately I don’t know if I liked this enough to make again. My friend seemed to like it, but I was on the fence. The breadcrumbs were just too crumbly for me.

What I liked most were the olives. Why bother spreading bread crumbs all over if they aren’t enhancing the taste?

This might be wonderful for some people, but I’ll admit I’m just not really feeling it. I recommend making this recipe but leaving the breadcrumbs out.

Then again, if you’re like me and enjoy trying new things, you really should just try it and decide for yourself.

Choose your own adventure folks. It’s the way of life.

 

Eggs in Purgatory

This is a fitting recipe to describe my life currently let me tell you. Eggs in Purgatory.

Scratch that, I realize that the egg bit makes it seem like I’m going through menopause or trying to get pregnant maybe. Neither of those things is happening.

What I meant is that work has been hell for me right now and the weekend is like purgatory before I have to go back to the hell on Monday.

Purgatory isn’t so short and oh so sweet for most people, so I suppose I should feel lucky in that regard. I mean have you read Dante’s The Diving Comedy? 

Whatever purgatory you’re in right now, the good news is that this recipe is from Cook This, Not That which should help your case if you’re hoping to go up instead of down.

What you’ll need

  • 1/2 cup of farro or barley
  • 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 ounces of pancetta, diced
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, mince
  • 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (feel free to up the ante on this one if you enjoy spice as well)
  • 1 can (28 oz) of crushed tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 eggs

The first step is to cook your farro or barley. To do so, follow package instructions which will most likely tell you to boil in water for x amount of time.

While x amount of time is occurring, heat the oil in a large skillet. Once the oil is hot, cook the pancetta and let it brown slightly. Next, add the onions, garlic, and pepper flakes. Cook this until the onion has softened which should take around three minutes and then throw in the tomatoes and your grains from before. Provided said grains are ready to be cooked that is.

Cook this until the tomato juices have slightly reduced. This should be about 5 minutes and once these 5 minutes are up this is your time to season with salt and pepper to your likeing.

We are now ready to cook the eggs and will do so by creating 8 large wells in the sauce. It’s going to be difficult to do this perfectly, but try your best. Our goal is to make a well that will fit an egg. Once you’ve made eight that can accommodate start cracking your eggs into each of their little wells.

Cook the eggs under low heat for about 7 minutes until they’re cooked, but still slightly runny. You can poke your eggs with a pitchfork to make them cook faster if necessary. That might earn you points down instead of up though. Choose your own adventure.

Once those eggs are cooked, you’re ready to enjoy!

Cook This, Not That recommends consuming this dish by scooping it up with some bread and I say don’t make it just any bread. Make it garlic bread!

That would be straying from the low calorie breakfast goal intended unless you incorporated the crostini from Light and Healthy. Seems like a good option here to me. Again choose your own adventure, but depending on your current state of health garlic bread could be the devil on your shoulder. Tread carefully.

This was my first experience with Eggs in Purgatory and I have to save I was not disappointed. It’s an Italian version of Huevos Rancheros which makes the list of breakfast favorites for this girl so I’m not too surprised.

It was fairly easy to make as well. I did struggle with not breaking up the egg when I tried to remove it from my pan. The picture below was the best result I could get and I recognize it’s not one of my better pictures.

I’m not a professional food photographer so if this offends you then I suggest you hire one for me.

Despite it’s looks, this was tasty and I suggest you give it a chance. It may not be beautiful but it’s got a good soul.

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Eggs in Purgatory